SAVANNAH — Parts of coastal Georgia and north Florida experienced a rare weather phenomena: Snow!
A wintry mix of freezing rain, sleet, and snow turning completely to snow by midday Wednesday, causing a slick roads and dangerous conditions.
At about 3 p.m. Wednesday, Savannah had received about 2 inches of snow as the storm system made its way up the East Coast. The storm was expected to intensify before hitting other big cities in the north.
Coastal Georgia hasn't seen more than an inch of snow in nearly 30 years -- but several inches fell there on Wednesday, prompting Gov. Nathan Deal to declare a state of emergency for 28 counties even before the snow fell.
Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan traveled to coastal Georgia reported seeing frozen rain and drizzle in Savannah early Wednesday morning that soon transitioned to snow.
All Georgia Department of Transportation brine trucks and 75 additional plows were sent to the impacted areas, Deal said.
All Georgia Department of Transportation brine trucks and 75 additional plows are being sent to the impacted areas, Deal said.
Around 9 a.m. Monday, the Savannah/Hilton Head International airport closed as the storm moved in.
As Monahan and his photojournalist made their way into Savannah along Interstate 16, many bridges and overpasses were blocked by law enforcement because roads were getting to dangerous to drive on.
Despite the snow causing headaches on the roads, downtown Savannah around LaFayette Square looked picturesque with snow coating the buildings and trees.
"I have seen snow before, but like just one or two flakes when I was in kindergarten. I've never seen this much snow in this area,” Savannah resident Ethan Woodcock told Monahan.
"On the surface, this looks like a treat, but tomorrow's gonna be difficult because folks are not used to driving in snow or ice around here. It's gonna be perilous," Felton Elders said.
When Monahan arrived at the Savannah airport, he found what would normally be a welcome sight – empty TSA security lines.
Monahan spoke to passengers who said they were going to be stranded at the airport until at least 8 a.m. Thursday. One man told him he was visiting from New Zealand to see family.
"I said to my wife, ‘You don't have to pack any cold clothes or anything like that because it's always sort of around 20 degrees Celsius where they live,’ so she's a little bit upset because she only brought light clothes and a jumper," said tourist Steve Bright.
Monahan said police in Pooler told him that the bridge to get to the airport has completely iced over.
The state of emergency expires at midnight Friday.
The winter storm potential affects the following counties: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Candler, Coffee, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Echols, Effingham, Evans, Glynn, Jeff Davis, Lanier, Lowndes, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Ware and Wayne.
Savannah State University, Savannah Technical College, Savannah College of Art and Design, city offices and Savannah-Chatham Public Schools were closed Wednesday.
Cox Media Group